Penn State Football: Transfer To Pitt Sparks Signal Change
September 11, 2019 12:55 PM
by Ben Jones
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What happens when a former player transfers to a school on your schedule?

You change your signals.

Offense, defense and special teams. Once an opponent understand the language of your sideline play calling the secrets are out of the bag, and that means if you want to win, you have to change.

And that's the case with Penn State and former Nittany Lion John Petrishen, now at Pitt. The Nittany Lions have changed their signals.

"We knew that we were going to have to make some changes at that point," Franklin said of Petrishen's transfer. "So we have changed -- we didn't wait till this week to do it. We did it right when that was announced, but obviously we had to change all of our signals, you know, especially on defense and on offense, as well, but especially on defense because he knows all of our signals and those types of things."

"That was something we had to do right away."

While this sounds like a huge overhaul for the sake of one game, Penn State has changed its signals more than once during the James Franklin era. The Nittany Lions' signaling system was player-created under offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, and was tweaked again under second-year offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne.

Is it a pain? Sure, but it's not out of the ordinary.

In the case of Petrishen, it's an interesting showcase of the reason why coaches may have blocked transfers to other schools in the past. Nobody wants a player to leave, let alone to a rival. But with the start of the transfer portal, coaches have lost that power, and unsurprisingly Franklin joins many of his colleagues who are equally displeased with the change.

"This is exactly why for years, coaches were against, you know, the transferring within conferences or games on your schedule," Franklin said. "I think the problem with it is that as we all know, some people abused it, and they were denying kids everywhere that they wanted to go and that shouldn't happen. But what happened is we overcorrected. We went from not being able to -- we went from being able to deny them everywhere to now not being able to deny them anywhere. So it's problematic. That's why people have no-competes and things like that."

"It is what it is, and if that's in the best interest of the student athlete, we'll adjust. We'll adjust, which is what we've done."

It's a small detail in a big game, but when you're looking for every advantage you can get, small details sometimes make a big difference.

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